The technical challenges involved with making Demon of Dread entailed finding a way to create a background with ‘mega mendung’ — many clouds, in English — in wood, enamel and mica.
I chose Mega mendung, a classic batik motif from North Java, as the background for the piece because of my love and connection to Indonesian fabrics. I had been using wood as a substrate to mount each of the sculptures in the series, and finally I had the realization that I was wasting a valuable opportunity. I harkened back to my lessons in mask carving with the illustrious I.B. Anom in Bali in 1983. I revived my tools, bought some
wood, started carving again, and succeeded in creating the wood background of ‘mega mendung.’
I achieved the desired effect by incorporating stain, powdered graphite, and inlaid mica. One day while making enamel tests, I noticed a piece of m
ica had adhered to the counter-enamel of one test and was particularly beautiful. I decided it could be interesting to try to use mica on the front enamel. I proceeded to make a series of tests. In the end, I settled on carefully sawing out the mica, which I had fixed to heavy chipboard for support. I then fired the mica shapes into the prepared basecoat of enamel to make the ‘mega mendung’ motif on the enamel. As the mica heats and cools repeatedly, it puffs up and separates the delicate layers one from the other. By slipping a thin palette knife between the layers, I was able
to pull off identical layers of mica and apply them in other areas of the enamel.
Again, I created the details on the robe of the demon with ‘pixie dust’ gold gel pen, and true lusters. I used pressed Ginbari foil on which I drew with underglaze pencils to add texture under the figure. The scarf and ribbons are made of brass with patina, to which I applied gold leaf.
I made Edith’s hands of mica and made the body lying on the radiation bed from pierced mica. The sarong wrapping the figure is also from North Java. The colors indicate that the cloth is meant to be worn by an older woman of my age, and the motifs represent the time between the end of one life cycle and the beginning of another, or the transition from the earthly realm to the spirit realm. The sarong is rendered in mason’s stains, over which I sifted transparents. The wood carving represents both waves of love and healing energy as well as radiation. The deep background carving signifies the ties that bind.
The series took me five years to complete. I worked five to six days a week and made hundreds of tests, especially when developing new techniques for working with mica or creating tessera.
Many of the tests showed real promise, and I still keep them visible for inspiration and developing new ideas.